Many government agencies and departments are under constant pressure to increase the level of openness and transparency to provide people access to high-quality digital government information and services anywhere, anytime, on any device. At the same time they face the need for security and strong internal controls to maintain the privacy, auditability and retention of records. That scenario has drastically increased in complexity in the past few years, as a result of public interest and demand for electronic access to all government related services.
Governments have traditionally used Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems, but having object repositories scale to handle multi-dimensional growth is today's grand challenge. Any system that aims to deliver a satisfactory experience and performance scalability across user & content needs to embrace a hybrid approach. This approach will provide assets with full lifecycle at its core, and help integrating a number of supporting systems, which play a key role in enabling connectivity, business intelligence and collaboration at massive scale.
Application level clustering
Alfresco has always offered a great deal of flexibility and modularity on architectural deployments, ranging from supporting different stack components to remote independent logical tiers which are able to spread the overall platform load across multiple physical machines.
Alfresco development also supports application level clustering through JGroups, Ehcache and index tracking. This grants users excellent horizontal scalability, in addition to traditional vertical scalabilities which can be achieved by increasing server resources.
At the file system level, support for Virtual File Systems allows the repository to be mounted as a FTP, CIFS or NFS shared folder, running in clustered mode to balance requests across multiple Alfresco nodes. This means solutions are able to scale transparently, independent of the selected UI.
External indexing tier
An effective way of helping to achieve better transparency is to make documents easier to search; however, it represents a complex challenge to do this efficently on massive centralized repositories.
Alfresco provides a fully externalized indexing tier based on Apache Solr that makes working at the billion-object scale possible. Alfresco's core and UI functionality are decoupled from an embedded indexing system, which allows indexing to be contained within an independently scalable tier based on Apache Solr.
Scaling out the Solr tier may improve load balance and system stability, but it does not necessarily mean the performance of searches executed against a large full index will be satisfactory. In order to scale repositories to billions of objects, performance techniques, such as index sharding have to be considered. This can be achieved by splitting the index into separate Apache Solr servers, running user search queries in parallel to return results in a timely manner. And as a bonus, multiple Alfresco repositories can be configured to use the same Solr cluster infrastructure.
Document and records lifecycle management
Records management specifically deals with the creation, protection, retrieval and disposal of records over time. Different types of documents may have different retention policies according to an agency's legal, regulatory and operational requirements.
Alfresco Records Management module enables government agencies to address the strict legal requirements associated with managing key business records. Alfresco can help public organizations to manage all document content with retention ranging from lightweight to 5015.02 - compliant in a single repository. By having a single repository for both document and records management, Alfresco takes the complexity out of managing separate systems and further lowers technology costs.